In ancient times, the Amazons defeated the God of War Ares (Alfred Molina), and Zeus charged them to keep him as their prisoner on their isolated island Themyscira. Hundreds of years later, Col. Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion) crash lands on the island and this diversion allows Ares to escape his imprisonment. Princess Diana (Keri Russell) is tasked to take Trevor home and bring Ares to justice. The air force pilot offers Diana his help and together they must overcome the might of the Greek God of War. But they must come to terms with humanity’s mistakes, but also the mistakes that blanket assumptions can make, as shown by Queen Hippolyta (Virginia Madsen).
DC is known for its high quality animated movies and Wonder Woman (2009) is no different. Out of all the superhero universes we are privy to now, whether that be on the big screen or the small one, DC’s animated universe trumps them all. This is a Wonder Woman origin story showing her feud with Ares and her first meeting with Steve Trevor, and her relationship with the Amazons, including the battle-born Artemis (Rosario Dawson), the goddess of the hunt in Greek mythology and the twin sister to the sun god, Apollo. The story does a great job in showing the backstory of the Amazons through their bitter relationship with Ares and how this hardened their view of man.
Since Justice Unlimited ended in 2004, I’ve wanted live-action Wonder Woman and with Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman, I got my wish, and subsequently Patty Jenkins has churned out an Amazon solo movie. I did my waiting, twelve years of it, but this animated movie is as good as it gets in terms of character, story and all-round awesomeness. From the animation to the voice performances by Fillion, Russell and Dawson, with the epic musical score, Wonder Woman has it all. Let’s not forget its pro-feminist leanings, and that’s a great thing to think about when 95% of superhero movies revolve around the male-centric view of the world we live in today.
And despite all this movie’s darkness, it’s not short of comedy, whether that be Steve Trevor’s “guy talk” or Hippolyta’s witty one-liners. “You seem as eager to meet me on the battlefield as you once did in the bedroom, Hippolyta” says Ares. She replies “I only hope you prove more skilled in this arena, Ares.” As is typical in kid’s movies, the writers have hidden the adult humour well, even to a degree that Jason’s golden fleece was hidden on Colchis. Well-played indeed. “God, your daughter’s got a nice rack” says Steve to Hippolyta… whilst encircled in the Lasso of Truth. He’s an archetype of the male sex, and Wonder Woman lays this depiction naked and bare for all to see.
It shows women to be more than just family-makers and house slaves, a Victorian value that some would rather go back to, even in the twenty-first century. Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman shows that a woman is as capable as any man, if not more. She’s one of the most iconic characters in all of fiction and she’s a feminist icon. Films like this will always be political and there’s no getting away from it. This film tells us to celebrate our differences, but it also shows how humanity builds shrines to its heroes. Human beings have always had a horrible track record at following those with great power. No matter if that’s Jesus or Abe Lincoln, or Winston Churchill on the £5 note.
The world is and has always been propagated in this male-centric view, with numerous things being phallic shaped, regardless if that’s a car or even the god damn Washington Monument. Ares is the war god and he waves his masculinity around for all to see whilst throwing Diana around like rag doll. Alfred Molina (Feud: Bette And Joan) kills every scene he’s in as Ares. As far as villains go in a blockbuster movie, Ares is one of the best I’ve seen in a comic book movie, whether that be animated, live-action or otherwise. He has that presence, which he also showed in Justice League Dark as Destiny opposite Matt Ryan’s John Constantine and Jason O’Mara’s The Batman.
Keri Russell does well as Diana, but Dawson (Artemis) does it better in her bout in the Justice League animated movies. With great voice performances, good animation and themes to probe the mind, Wonder Woman is the real deal and I can’t wait to see Gal Gadot go to toe with Ares in Patty Jenkins’ live-action film.
An empowering film about otherness, and what it means to be different in a world that celebrates mediocrity